January 20, 2017 and the Murmur of Democracy was a group performance held in Cortelyou Commons on the campus of DePaul University on January 20, 2017 from 10:00am until 1:00pm.
The performance commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference held in 1942. At that meeting fifteen high ranking Nazi officials met to implement the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. In other words, January 20, 1942 was the day that the systematic annihilation of Europe’s Jews was organized and made official as state policy.
The time of the January 20, 2017 performance was scheduled to coincide with the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump as America’s 45th president. This intersection of history and our moment demanded that we acted together against all advocates and perpetrators of oppression and all of the people and institutions that allow and support such narrow-mindedness.
The Murmur was organized to bring people together to share the words of survivors. Letters, poems, stories, testimonies, lyrics, and other texts were shared by over seventy participants.
The form of the Murmur countered typical top-down political actions in which volume equals veracity and large audiences face one single speaker. In an effort to democratize the exchange of ideas, the Murmur took place with no stage, no podium, and no microphone. Instead individual participants sat around tables and read to each other. One speaker at each table read, while others at that table listened to the words penned or spoken by survivors. (Many of the texts shared at the Murmur are included in the Archive of this website.) Each person was invited to share their chosen texts in whichever language felt most appropriate. Collectively, the shared voices created a Murmur that united the participants and allowed us to stand in defiance of the new president’s divisive rhetoric, while also honoring the memory of victims of violence and oppression.
The next large Murmur will be held on January 20, 2018. Details about that event will be posted at this site in December 2017. Small, informal Murmurs are being held on the twentieth of each month at various locations. If you would like to host a Murmur then click here.